Entries Tagged as 'University of Illinois Baseball'

BTH reviews Illinois Baseball

Zealot friend Brian D from Big Ten Hardball does his annual review of Big Ten baseball team and predicts Illinois to at least make the tournament in 2009. 

Brian’s bottom line??

Illinois will go as far as their pitching lets them. This team, like many of the recent Illini squads, should swing the bats well enough, steal a few bases and play tough day-in and day-out. The question will be how their arms, especially the unproven ones, hold up.

The thought here is that the Illini should secure another top six Big Ten finish and a trip to Huntington Park and the conference tournament

His review of Illinois is pretty spot on.  You can read it at his blog, Big Ten Hardball.

Freshman catcher practices his footwork in the offseason

Illinois freshman catcher Adam Davis was featured in an Inside Illinois article by Melissa Mitchell on University of Illinois athletes gaining “increased agility, dexterity through (a) dance class”. 

Apparently, it’s a popular move by all the sports coaches at Illinois.  The class they took was Dance 100 taught by Kate Kuper.

Davis seemed to take to the dance floor well.

“Being a catcher, I need good feet work, and dance helps me with my feet work,” he said.

Davis’ moves haven’t been lost on his teacher.

“He’s very comfortable with his body, and he’s not afraid to try things,” Kuper said.

I’m looking forward to seeing Mr Davis busting a few moves behind the plate during the upcoming season.

2009 Big Ten Tournament held at neutral site

This bit of news came out before the holidays but is worth passing on.  The 2009 Big Ten Tournament will be held at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio.  Huntington Park is the home of the Yankees’ Triple-A team, the Columbus Clippers.

The set dates for the tournament are May 20-23.  This is the first time the Big Ten has played their tournament at a neutral site since 1994 when they played in Battle Creek, MI.  Though it is played at a park foreign to all teams, Ohio State University is right across town.  Some Big Ten teams will be more “neutral” than others, I guess.

That said, I applaud the move for practical reasons.  What does this mean?  We don’t have to wait till the last weekend of the regular season (and three days before the tournament) before we know where the tournament is held.

Traditionally, the first place team hosts the tournament.  When this happens:

1)  All tournament teams (and for that matter, any team in the running) make all travel arrangements at all schools who in still in the running for first place before the last weekend of the regular season then make the necessary cancellations afterwards.  Two years ago if memory serves, three teams were still in the running.

2)  Any still in the running for first place more than likely needs to start thinking of organizing the tournament.  Think of two years ago.  Three schools needed to get things into place knowing full well that they may not be hosting.

As you can see, it was a logistical nightmare.  And a neutral site will take care of some of those issues.

All that’s got to happen now is the Illini have to get into Tournament.  Then Columbus, here I come!

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves…Illinois’ first game is February 20 in Clearwater, Florida.  The strange thing… we start off against a Big Ten Team, Iowa.

Go Illinois!!

Illini Baseball: 6 sign letters of intent

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the Illini.  But yesterday, news came out that six Illinois players have signed letters of intent. 

As of now, the 2009 class includes

Christian Cummins of Harrisburg, Ill., Davis Hendrickson, of Macomb, Ill., Brandon Hohl, of Mokena, Ill., Kevin Johnson, of Midlothian, Ill., Matt Milroy, of Batavia, Ill., and Seth Schwindenhammer of Bartonville, Ill.

Schwindenhammer, that’s a name that’s made for baseball. 

Complete bios on the CSTV web site.

Homecoming weekend in Illini country

In the “not baseball-related” category, it’s Homecoming Weekend now at the University of Illinois.  As tradition with our family, we attended Friday night’s Homecoming Parade.

Lots of fun as usual.  Some photos:

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Game time is at noon and it will be televised on ESPN.

Go Illini!  Whack the Gophers!

Photos of Game 3 of Illini Orange and Blue Series

With the playoff game going on tonight, I had lot going on already but that didn’t stop me from dropping by Illinois Field after work and catching a few innings of today’s game of Orange and Blue Game World Series.  The intra squad series of the University of Illinois baseball team has been going on all week.

I took some photos and posted them.

Illini baseball to compete in BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge

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Next February, the Illini will compete in a tournament between the Big Ten and BIG EAST conferences.  The inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge will take place February 20-22, 2009 and will be hosted by the St Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission.  All teams of the Big Ten and BIG EAST will take part.

The tournament will take place on the same date that Major League pitchers and catchers report for spring training. 

Here is the proposed schedule:

BIG EAST/BIG TEN CHALLENGE MATCHUPS

Day 1 – Friday, February 20
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame
Penn State vs. St. John’s
Illinois vs. Iowa
Michigan State vs. Connecticut
Michigan vs. South Florida
Northwestern vs. Georgetown
Minnesota vs. Seton Hall
Indiana vs. West Virginia
Purdue vs. Cincinnati

Day 2 – Saturday, February 21
Michigan vs. Cincinnati
Purdue vs. South Florida
Penn State vs. Northwestern
Ohio State vs. Connecticut
Indiana vs. Georgetown
Illinois vs. Notre Dame
Minnesota vs. West Virginia
Michigan State vs. Seton Hall
Iowa vs. St. John’s

Day 3 – Sunday, February 22
Michigan vs. St. John’s
Ohio State vs. Cincinnati
Minnesota vs. Michigan State
Northwestern vs. Connecticut
Indiana vs. South Florida
Iowa vs. Georgetown
Purdue vs. Notre Dame
Penn State vs. Seton Hall
Illinois vs. West Virginia

Update: I asked Brian from The College Baseball Blog why the BIG EAST was in ALL CAPS while the Big Ten wasn’t in all the press releases I read.  He simply said, "He simply said, It’s because they’re the BIG EAST."

‘Nuff said.

More Illinois practice photos

I wandered onto the Illinois Field premises during practice on Wednesday and snapped a few shots.  It had rained earlier in the day but conditions were ok for a few hours of field time.  Say what you want about Illinois Field’s Field Turf, it does handle the rain pretty well.

 

Today it was infield fielding practice with Coach Hartleb hitting the ball to the guys.

Watching practice, you see so much of the effort that goes into teamwork that seems transparent during the actual game. 

More photos from Wednesday. 

See photos from last week on their first day of practice.

In other Illinois Baseball news, former Illini firstbaseman Mike Rohde was just named Rookie of the Year in the Northern League.  Congrats Mike!

Illini take the field for some fall practice

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Today, the University of Illinois baseball team took the field at Illinois Field for the first time this semester for practice.  So I took off work early and got some photos.

It was a sunny, hot 92-93 degrees and just standing around was enough to work up a sweat.

I saw a lot of players I recognized from last year and quite a few new kids on the block.  When i was there, it was mostly warmups, drills and a little batting practice.

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Joe Bonadonna Casey McMurray and Nick Stockwell

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Coach Eric Snider teaching the finer points of laying down the bunt.

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Some of the pitchers were practicing their faux deliveries on a wooden beam in front of full length mirror.

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Snider feeding the pitching machine under the scoreboard in left field.  ugh… 93 degrees.

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Dom Altobelli (right) came over to shake my hand before practice.  It sounds like the torn labrum which he injured last season is still nagging him.  Hopefully, he’ll be good as new by spring.

More photos at the Photo Gallery.

Former Illini Robinson interviewed by Chicago Trib

Chris Robinson who was a catcher for the University of Illinois and played for Team Canada in this year’s Olympics, did a Q&A for the Chicago Tribune

I was a bit puzzled by the Trib’s last question though. 

Q: Cubs vs. Tigers, World Series. Who do you root for?

Umm, considering that Robbie is currently on the roster of the Cubs Double-A team, the Tennessee Smokies, I would hope he would choose the Cubs.  Of course, he did.